Grand jury returns 87 new indictments

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2003

A variety of criminal activity kept grand jurors busy last weekas the panel voted to return 87 new indictments, according to courtdocuments.

“Thirty of the 87 were bad checks,” said Assistant DistrictAttorney Diane Jones in discussing the cases heard during the finalsession of the June term.

Jones said there were no cases involving deaths. However, othercases involved sexual battery, armed robbery, several assaults,some DUIs, embezzlement and false pretenses.

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“There were quite a few drug cases,” Jones said, estimating thetotal about 30.

Jones was unable to discuss any specifics of the cases as grandjury discussions are kept secret. Indictments are not made publicuntil the accused is served with a copy of the court document.

Arraignments for newly-indicted defendants before Judge MikeSmith have not been scheduled.

The 87 indictments last week more than doubled the totalreturned earlier in the term. Jones said that was not a matter of agreat increase in crime.

“We had been off for three months and it kind of piled up,”Jones said regarding the grand jury caseload.

Last week’s indictments raised the June term total to 169. Withlast week’s eight, grand jurors voted to not return indictments in17 cases.

According to the grand jury’s final report, they heard from 70witnesses last week, raising the witness total to 163. A total oftwo cases were returned to a lower court for further considerationand 13 cases have been continued for additional investigation

In other grand jury duties, the panel toured the Lincoln CountyJail and determined that prisoners were “securely housed andhumanely treated.” Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop reported that thecounty is in sound financial condition and all monies due thecounty have been paid.

The grand jury expressed appreciation to Smith and Circuit ClerkTerry Lynn Watkins for their assistance during the term.

“We now have a better understanding as to how our system ofjustice works,” the report said.

The final report concludes the June term and grand jury actionfor 2003. Watkins said Judge Keith Starrett will empanel a newgrand jury in January.